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Abbado, Marcello

(October 7, 1926 - June 4, 2020)

Marcello Abbado was born in Milan where he grew up in a family of musicians. He majored in piano at Milano’s Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory, where he studied under Gianandrea Gavazzeni and Renzo Lorenzoni, and graduated in 1944. He then studied composition under Giulio Cesare Paribèni and Giorgio Federico Ghedini, and received his second diploma in 1947.

In 1944 he began his longtime career as a concert pianist, with performances at La Scala, the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Teatro Coliseo in Buenos Aires, as well as performances at leading venues in London, Montreal, New York, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. 

Over the years he has worked with world-class musicians, including the composer Paul Hindemith, and top-ranking conductors like Wolfgang Sawallisch and Guido Cantelli. He spent many years working with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, for whom he played and conducted all 27 of Mozart’s piano concerts.

Marcello Abbado has also been a member and president of juries for a host of international music competitions for singers, composers, conductors, chamber music ensembles, violinists and pianists. Since 1981 he has been a member of the jury for the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. He is a member of the PianoTexas International Academy (USA), and is the sole Italian pianist to be an honorary member of the Japan Piano Teachers Association in Tokyo. 

Abbado taught composition for twelve years at the conservatories in Bologna, Parma and Piacenza, where he was also Director of Studies; he served as Director of Studies at Pesaro’s Gioachino Rossini Conservatory for six years; from 1973 to 1996 he served as Director of Studies at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milano. During that time, he was also a member of the Board of Directors at La Scala. In 1993 Abbado and Vladimir Delman cofounded the Giuseppe Verdi Symphony Orchestra of Milano, for which he served as Artistic Director until 1996. 

As a composer, Marcello Abbado has explored a variety of different musical genres. His catalogue includes compositions for orchestras, chamber ensembles, and theatrical pieces. Among his works published by Ricordi: Costruzioni for 5 small orchestras (1963), Doppio concerto for violin, piano and double chamber orchestra (1965), Fasce sonore for two pianos and chamber orchestra (1973), Riverberazioni for flute, oboe, bassoon and piano (1965), and Costruzioni…e ricostruzioni for orchestra (2007).